I get the impression from reading letters to the editor and columnists in many newspapers, that who can be a Christian these days is extremely narrowly defined.
I was brought up to believe that “Christians” are folks who at some point in their lives made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ and who, to the best of their abilities, hold fast in their daily lives to the teachings of the Jesus of the gospels.
I am becoming more acutely aware that there is an increasingly large number of people of the fundamentalist persuasion who believe that anyone who does not believe as they do are not, and cannot be, Christians. And, incidentally, who would want to be? On the opposite side of the fence an equally large segment of the population seems to have given up religion altogether.
This does not shock me, especially, but it causes me to carefully assess how fundamentalists and right-wing political groups have for all intents and purposes hikacked the “name above all names,” and turned away from Jesus’ essential teachings and practices.
I have frequently asserted that Jesus was, undeniably, a liberal. He was gentle, caring, accepting, generous and helpful. No one, by any stretch of the imagination, could say that Jesus was a bigot or that he turned aside from those people who were considered, by the common definition, “sinners.” He certainly did not shun people who thought differently than he did. He called at least three such persons to be his disciples!
As a matter of fact, in the Gospels, on numerous occasions we see him eating and drinking with “sinners” and other people who were considered outcasts by the religious leaders of his day. I like this. I think I would have felt right at home among these people! Jesus apparently steered wide of the prevailing political persuasions of first-century Palestine. On one occasion, he essentially said that we are to keep religion and politics (government) separate. Even when his fellow countrymen were being crushed under the massive machine of the Roman Empire.
My point is, simple, that we have reached a place where one’s faith and/or one’s belief have become something of a line in the sand. Although the Bible has “little-to-noting” to say about what is acceptable when it comes to marriage (and marriage was certainly different in both the Old and New Testaments than it is today), we have a large segment of “Christians” who want to say anyone who defines marriage differently, i.e. what is presently legally, socially and morally acceptable, cannot be a “Christian.” Obviously they know nothing about today’s prevailing marriage customs in much of the world.
We have almost reached the point, too, where one cannot be both a Christian and a Democrat! And, if it’s a clear choice, I have come to a decision about which I would prefer to be!
Among my severest, sometimes outright mean, critics are people who say I cannot be a Christian, as they define the term, because I don’t believe as they do. And I certainly don’t! They are, to a man, fundamentalist pastors. The women who cannot be pastors can still be outspoken “Christian” zealots!
Oh, by the way, as the evangelical/fundamentalist Christians increasingly embrace Donald Trump, as I’m suspecting they are, I must fairly ask: Is Donald Trump a “Christian?” I don’t know, and I have no right to judge, but, frankly I can say with confidence that he doesn’t appear to be very “Christ-like!” I’m not in bad company when I say this because, apparently, Pope Francis thinks so, too.